SummerSlam 2011 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by WWE that took place on August 14, 2011. For the third consecutive year, SummerSlam was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and it was the 24th annual SummerSlam event. Six matches were originally scheduled for the event, but a seventh was added during the show when Alberto Del Rio cashed in his "Money in the Bank" briefcase and defeated CM Punk. It was later announced that SummerSlam attracted a sellout crowd of 17,404 fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, grossing more than $1 million. This marks the highest grossing SummerSlam ever held at the Staples Center. The event garnered 296,000 pay-per-view buys, down from 350,000 buys the previous year.
SummerSlam featured professional wrestling matches involving different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines that played out on World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) television programs. Wrestlers portrayed villains or heroes as they followed a series of events that built tension, and culminated into a wrestling match or series of matches.
The main feud heading into SummerSlam from the SmackDown brand is between Christian and Randy Orton, over the former's World Heavyweight Championship. At Extreme Rules in May, Christian defeated Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder match to win the vacant World Heavyweight Championship for the first time, only to lose it to Orton on the May 3 tapings of SmackDown (aired on May 6). After two unsuccessful attempts at regaining the title from Orton at the Over the Limit and Capitol Punishment pay-per-views, Christian finally won the championship for the second time at the Money in the Bank event in July, after he spat in Orton's face, provoking the latter to kick Christian in the groin and get himself disqualified; as per pre-match stipulations enacted by Christian, he won the title. At the July 29 episode of SmackDown, the Chief Operating Officer of WWE, Triple H, officially announced that Christian will defend his World title against Orton in a No Holds Barred match at SummerSlam.
The main event from the Raw brand for SummerSlam would pit John Cena against CM Punk, both vying for the right of being called the "undisputed" WWE Champion. In the weeks leading to the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July on Raw, Punk announced the expiry of his WWE contract on the night of the July 17 event, en route lambasting the WWE for failing to promote him as the "best wrestler in the world", and threatened some high authority figures like WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, of defeating Cena and leaving the venue with the WWE Championship. At Money in the Bank, Punk succeeded in pinning Cena to win the title, and even after McMahon tried to have Alberto Del Rio - who had won the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase earlier that night - cash in his contract against Punk, the latter nevertheless left the arena with the championship. The following night on Raw, McMahon dismissed Punk's claim to the title, and announced an 8-man tournament to decide the new WWE Champion. Also, on the same night, Triple H (kayfabe) "fired" McMahon from his position of the Chairman, and himself assumed control over WWE as the Chief Operating Officer. On the July 25 edition of Raw, Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz in the finals to become the WWE Champion; however, under Triple H's orders, Mysterio defended his title later on the same night against Cena, who beat Mysterio to win the title for a record ninth time. However, after the match, Punk returned to the WWE with his own title belt that he won at Money in the Bank, thereby creating an ambiguous situation of the presence of "two WWE Champions". On the August 1 episode of Raw, Triple H announced that Punk would face Cena in a one-on-one match at SummerSlam to crown the "undisputed" WWE Champion.
The secondary feud heading into SummerSlam on the SmackDown brand was between Sheamus and Mark Henry. In recent weeks, Henry put Kane and Big Show out of action by crushing their legs with steel chairs. On the July 29 edition of SmackDown, Henry came to the ring for his match but when his opponent Bobby Howard came out. Henry was angry and SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long informed him that nobody wanted to fight him. Sheamus came out and told Long that if he's looking for someone to fight Henry he'll fight him. Sheamus then confronted Henry about being a bully and slapped him but when Henry tried to attack him Sheamus scared him off. The following week, Henry defeated Vladimir Kozlov and also put him out of action by crushing his leg with a chair the same way he did Big Show and Kane. When Henry faced new superstar Johnny Curtis on the August 12 episode of SmackDown, he defeated him and grabbed a chair but Sheamus made the save. Sheamus then challenged Henry but Henry dragged Curtis out of the ring and dropped him with a Worlds Strongest Slam on the floor. It was later announced that Henry would face Sheamus at SummerSlam.
The Divas feud entering SummerSlam was between Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix over the WWE Divas Championship. On the August 1 episode of Raw, Phoenix won a Divas battle royal to become the #1 Contender for Kelly's title at SummerSlam. Phoenix turned villainous by attacking Kelly in and out of the ring, and subsequently told Kelly that "her days as the perky blonde bimbo were over."
Much like the previous year's SummerSlam, WWE will promote the event with its SummerSlam Axxess fan convention. The convention will be held at the Nokia Plaza in LA Live from August 13 to August 14. THQ will reveal further details of the latest installment of their new video game that will replace the WWE SmackDown series.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Dolph Ziggler defeated Alex Riley
- Kofi Kingston, John Morrison and Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz, R-Truth and Alberto Del Rio in a 6-Man Tag Team Match (9:40)
- Mark Henry defeated Sheamus by count out (9:22)
- Kelly Kelly (w/ Eve) (c) defeated Beth Phoenix (w/ Natalya) to retain the WWE Divas Championship (6:48)
- Wade Barrett defeated Daniel Bryan (11:47)
- Randy Orton defeated Christian (c) to win the World Heavyweight Championship in No Holds Barred Match (23:48)
- CM Punk (c) defeated John Cena (c) to win the WWE Championship (Undisputed) (with Triple H as the Special guest referee) (24:15)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated CM Punk (c) to win the WWE Championship (0:05)
Other on-screen talent
- List of WWE pay-per-view events
- SummerSlam Axxess 2011
- World Wrestling Entertainment/Event history
- Event gallery
- SummerSlam 2011 Offical website
- SummerSlam 2011 at CAGEMATCH.net
- SummerSlam 2011 at Online World of Wrestling
- SummerSlam 2011 on WWE Network
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